August 23, 2021 minutes


Alexandria, Minnesota 56308

Minutes of the meeting of August 23, 2021 

A regular meeting/public hearing of the Planning Commission of Alexandria Township was held on the 23rd day of August, 2021 at the Township Conference Room, 324 Broadway, and via teleconference.

Roll Call:  Commission members present were Shad Steinbrecher, Larry Steidl, Linda Dokken-McFann and Julie Haar.  Also present were Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk, and Ben Oleson, Township Zoning Administrator.  As said members formed a quorum and the meeting was called to order by Chairman Steidl at 5:20 p.m.

Agenda: Steinbrecher, seconded by Dokken-McFann, made a motion to approve the agenda as written.  Motion carried unanimously.

Minutes: Steinbrecher, seconded by Haar, made a motion to approve the minutes of the 06/28/2021 meeting as written.  Motion carried unanimously.

Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the zoning map amendment request submitted by Massman Companies, Inc. on property located at 2902 Hazel Hill Road SE.  Representing Massman were Jeff Hohn, President/CEO, Duane Taillefer, Vice President, Operations, and Mike Ardito, General Manager.

Public Hearing:  Zoning Administrator Oleson explained that Massman Companies, Inc. submitted an application to rezone two adjoining properties from Urban Residential (UR) to either Industrial (I), Commercial-Rural (C-R) or Commercial-Urban (C-U).  He stated the township’s zoning map identifies the various zoning districts throughout the township.

Chairman Steidl closed the public hearing and reconvened the meeting.

Dokken-McFann, seconded by Haar, made a motion to table the meeting due to space limitations and technical difficulties setting up a separate viewing area. Roll: Haar – yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Dokken-McFann – yes, Steidl – yes.  Motion carried unanimously.  A new date to resume the hearing was tentatively set for August 31, 2021.

Chairman Steidl recessed the meeting to open the public hearing on the proposed township zoning ordinance amendment relating to the regulation of fences.

Oleson provided a summary of the proposed regulations.  He said our current ordinance stipulates the maximum height allowed is six feet and, if they are not maintenance-free, they must be a minimum of two feet off the property line.  If they are maintenance-free, they are allowed on the property line.  Currently there is no concise definition for maintenance-free.  With no clear definitions in place, people have constructed fences out of non-traditional materials.

The proposed language would state that the new section on fences shall be applicable to all parcels of land within the Township except those with a tax classification of Agricultural or Agricultural Residential.  Everyone else would be subject to the maximum six foot height.

If a fence abuts a public right-of-way, it may be placed next to the right-of-way; for a side or rear property line, a six foot maximum height with a two foot minimum distance must be observed. For lakeshore properties, the rear property line is the lake frontage. The six foot maximum height needs to be observed unless a conditional use permit applies.  The setback from the lake would be 50’ in sewered areas; in RDS areas, 100’.  If a lesser setback is requested, this would be granted via a conditional use permit.

In the buildable area of a lot, the maximum height would be eight feet.  For any residential property line abutting a business or industrial property, a maximum six foot height would be imposed unless otherwise requested by a conditional use permit.

The reason for the two foot setback from the property line in residential districts is to ensure a property owner is able to maintain a fence without encroaching on neighboring properties.  For commercial and/or industrial districts, any lot line would require a maximum six foot height (unless a taller height is requested by conditional use permit) with a two foot setback.

General standards applicable to all fencing subject to this ordinance include the requirement of a permit (which has never been required in the past) regardless of height or where on a property they are located except for the following exceptions:  temporary fencing not more than six feet in height if securing a construction site, provided the fencing is removed once the construction has been completed; and snow fences (between October 15 and April 15).

Before issuance of a fence permit, a survey would be required when the Zoning Administrator is unable to determine clearly if the fence would be on a landowner’s property.  If the fence is to be placed near a property line, a certificate of survey would be required.  A survey would not be required if the fence is to be set more than ten feet from the property line.

Commissioner Haar asked about the price of a typical survey.  Oleson responded that costs can vary.

Commissioner Dokken-McFann queried what would constitute an acceptable age of a survey and how to handle the complication of missing/removed survey pins on properties.

Oleson presented language defining acceptable types of fencing materials to be allowed.

Other criteria included:  that the fence height be kept to a maximum of six inches aboveground with fence posts extending a maximum of 12” above the body of the fence; the “good” side of the fence would face the neighboring property; fences would not be allowed on a corner lot if it could potentially obstruct the view of traffic or prohibit drainage in some way; fences would need to be kept in good repair; fences enclosing or adjacent to sport courts or fields, in any zoning district, may be allowed by conditional use permit up to 12’ in height with a minimum ten foot setback from any property line.

Haar asked if pool fencing needed to be included and, if so, would hard covers be acceptable in place of a fence.

Under the definition of “fence,” Oleson stated that a fence would not include hedges, shrubs or other natural vegetation.  Under the definition for “low-maintenance fence,” he stated that fencing would be constructed entirely from specified materials as listed in the ordinance.  Wooden split rail fences would be considered low-maintenance fencing. The definition also includes language with regard to fasteners rated for outdoor construction.

A permit fee of $35 is proposed for fences greater than 30” in height.  For all fences less than 30” in height, a permit is still required.

Chairman Steidl opened the hearing to the public for comment. Hearing none, he closed the public hearing and resumed the meeting.

Haar proposed to add regulations for pools as item Z. Fences, 3”j” on page 172 of the staff report.

Dokken-McFann supported requiring fencing with a minimum of four feet with self-latching gates.  She asked if the language should also include hardcover, softcover and/or industry-approved pool covers.

Commissioner Steinbrecher agreed, saying there should be a standard approved cover.

Haar asked about the proposed $35 permit fee.  Oleson stated it was in line with the minimum $35 land use fee requirement.

Steinbrecher asked if the regulations applied to both In-ground and above-ground pools.

Dokken-McFann asked about including ladders.

Haar, seconded by Steinbrecher, made a motion to recommend approval of the zoning ordinance amendment regulating fences with the following changes: 1) requiring a survey with verified property corners; 2) the addition of a subsection regarding pools to include the requirement of a minimum fence height of four feet, self-latching gates, fencing for exterior stairways leading to a deck, roll-up ladders for standalone pools, and industry-approved pool covers.  Roll: Haar- yes, Steinbrecher – yes, Dokken-McFann – yes, Steidl – yes.  Motion carried unanimously.

Zoning Administrator’s Report:  update provided 

New Business:  none

Old Business:  none

Chairman Steidl recognized Bryon Alstead, 2403 Hazel Hill Road, who was viewing via zoom.  Mr. Alstead said they couldn’t hear on zoom and asked what transpired with the Massman public hearing.  He was informed the matter was tabled and that notices will be re-sent and posted.

Oleson to follow up on a storage container issue in the Longboat Commons area.

Adjournment:  Being no further business Steinbrecher, seconded by Haar, made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Meeting adjourned at 6:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted…


Bonnie Fulghum, Deputy Clerk

Approved this ____ day of ___________, 2021


Larry Steidl, Chairman